• 31 July 2012
  • Posted By Jessica Schieder
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  • NIAC round-up

Iran News Roundup: July 31, 2012

Obama Authorizes New Iran Sanctions

President Obama authorized new sanctions against banks that facilitate the sale of petrochemical products by the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) and Naftiran Intertrade Company (NIC). Additionally, the President imposed sanctions on the Bank of Kunlun in China and Elaf Islamic Bank in Iraq for processing transactions for sanctioned Iranian banks (Reuters 7/31; The White House 7/31).

US Lawmakers Push for More Sanctions on Iran

US lawmakers in favor of new sanctions have reached an agreement, and the new legislation is expected to be voted on in the House as early as Wednesday. As explained by the Senate Banking Committee, “The bill aims to prevent Iran from repatriating any of the revenue it receives from the sale of its crude oil, depriving Iran of hard currency earnings and funds to run its state budget.” (AP 7/30; Senate Banking 7/30).

Iraq Says It Will Force MEK Out of Paramilitary Base

Iraq has told the Mujahadin-e Khalq (MEK), a US-designated terrorist organization, that they must move out of Camp Ashraf, or be forced to leave. Iraqi National Security Advisor Falih al-Fayadh said at a conference that, “Now we are free to implement the mechanisms required to transfer those who live in (Camp Ashraf) to where we find appropriate.” Iraq said it will observe a grace period of “a few days” to allow for a solution to the impasse, which arose when the MEK stopped cooperating with efforts to relocate the group’s members (Reuters 7/31).

Persian Gulf States Expand Arms Purchases

The Department of Defense has notified Congress of possible arms sales totaling more than $11.3 billion, including Patriot missile and Apache helicopter sales, to Persian Gulf states like Qatar and Kuwait (AP 7/30).

Romney Says Iran is Number One Threat, Not Russia

Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has shifted his tone after referring to Russia as the US’S “number one geopolitical threat”, saying, “The number one national security threat, of course, to our nation is a nuclear Iran”, during an interview with Wolf Blitzer in Jerusalem. He added, “Russia is a geopolitical adversary but is not an enemy with a – you know, with… missiles being fired at one another and things of that nature,” (CNN 7/30).

US Defense Secretary Panetta Says Sanctions Having “Serious Impact” on Iran

US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta urged Israeli leaders to be patience in using diplomacy and economic pressure on Iran. In comments to reporters before arriving in Jerusalem Panetta assured, “These sanctions are having a serious impact in terms of the economy of Iran.” He added, “”And while the results of that may not be obvious at the moment, the fact is that they have expressed a willingness to try to negotiate with the P5+1, and they continue to seem interested in trying to find a diplomatic solution,” (Reuters 7/30; NYT 7/30).

Controversies Further Weaken Ahmadinejad’s Political Influence

The New York Times reports that the combination of the dismissal of Ahmadinejad-appointee Saeed Mortazavi from his position as director of the Iranian social security fund yesterday and an Iranian court’s sentencing of four people to death for embezzlement may signal President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s increased isolation during his final year in office (NYT 7/30).

Delhi Police Deny Reports Revolutionary Guard Perpetrated New Delhi Bombing

A day after reports surfaced claiming the Delhi Police had concluded the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps were involved in the February 13 bomb on an Israeli diplomat in New Delhi, the Delhi Police are denying the report (Times of India 7/31).

Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and Russia Take Over Iranian Oil Market Share in Asia

As Iranian exports to Asia have fallen, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and Russia have attempted to eat into Iran’s market share. Saudi Arabia, Russia, and Venezuela are exporting approximately 21 percent more crude to Asian buyers than a year ago, while Iranian exports to China, Japan, South Korea, and India have fallen by a third in the first six months of the year (Reuters 7/31).

Iranian Central Bank Establishes Sanctions Task Force

Iranian central bank chief, Mahmoud Bahmani, says Iran has “established a headquarters in the central bank, which meets on a daily basis,” and whose task it is “to manage the sanctions.” He added, “In times of sanctions, we need to carry out asymmetrical economic warfare, which we have begun … or else we would face difficulties and obstacles.” Bahmani was quoted as saying sanctions are “no less than a military war”, backing comment from Iranian President Ahmadinejad which called sanctions “political warfare” (AP 7/31;AFP 7/31).

Iranian Auto Industry Attempts to Fill Gap in Market Left by Peugeot Departure

After Peugeot suspended its sales in Iran in February, the highly-dependent Iranian auto market faced trouble without access to prevalent Peugeot 405 and 206 models, but Iranian news sources now claim Iran Khodro Co., Iran’s largest carmaker has begun to produce most of the Peugeot 206 model parts (Bloomberg 7/31).

Turkish Exports of Gold to Iran Prop Up Export Sector

Iranian imports of Turkish gold have narrowed Turkey’s trade deficit, with the help of a dip in oil prices dip and a slowing of the economy. Iran was the biggest destination for Turkish exports with Iran buying $1.3 billion of Turkish goods, increasing 471.2 percent from last year (Reuters 7/31).

Iran Denies Report that China National Petroleum Corp. Has Pulled Out of Contract

Contrary to earlier reports, an Iranian official, speaking alongside a Chinese oil-company official said China National Petroleum Corp., or CNPC, has not pulled out of a $5 billion project to develop South Pars gas field, but that the project is struggling to find financing (WSJ 7/31).

Yemenis Snub Iranian Envoy

Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi has refused to receive the Iranian envoy to signal “Sanaa’s displeasure with Tehran’s policy towards Yemen”. The Iranian envoy is in Yemen to invite Hadi to attend the Non-Aligned Movement’s summit in Tehran in August, but the discovery of an Iranian spy ring in Yemen on July 18 has soured relations (Reuters 7/31).

Ahmadinejad Supports Shift to Exporting Refined Oil Products

At the opening of an oil refinery in Tehran, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was quoted as suggesting Iran “stop the exports of crude oil” to, instead, focus on refined oil products. Iran’s oil exports have fallen to between 1.2 barrels per day (bpd) and 1.3 million bpd, the lowest in more than 20 years as a result of Western sanctions (Reuters 7/31).

 

Notable Opinion: “Sanctions And The Shaping Of Iran’s ‘Resistance Economy’”

Farideh Farhi discusses ICAN’s report on sanctions and how they’ve shaped the Iranian economy:

To be sure, most individuals and organizations that push for “crippling” sanctions do so in the name of Israeli security and/or non-proliferation with little or no regard for the resulting impact on Iran’s population and civil society. In a world where economic warfare is considered diplomacy, more sanctions will apparently be the name of the game “until Iran begins to negotiate seriously” or “chooses a different path” — whatever that means. Pretensions or hope regarding the utility of blunt and wide-ranging sanctions for changing the way the hardline leadership in Iran treats its population, or, even better, for bringing about a change of regime in a “peaceful” way, are also out there.

If ICAN’s analysis is accurate, it also foretells harsher economic realities for the most vulnerable elements of Iran’s population, a harsher political environment for those agitating for change, and a more hostile setting for those who have tried to maintain historical links between Western societies and Iranian society.

Sanctions impact calculations, but usually not in the intended fashion.

Read the full article at lobelog

Posted By Jessica Schieder

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Sign the Petition

 

7,349 signatures

Tell Google: Stop playing Persian Gulf name games!

May 14, 2012
Larry Page
Chief Executive Officer
Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, California 94043

Dear Mr. Page:

It has come to our attention that Google has begun omitting the title of the Persian Gulf from its Google Maps application. This is a disconcerting development given the undisputed historic and geographic precedent of the name Persian Gulf, and the more recent history of opening up the name to political, ethnic, and territorial disputes. However unintentionally, in adopting this practice, Google is participating in a dangerous effort to foment tensions and ethnic divisions in the Middle East by politicizing the region’s geographic nomenclature. Members of the Iranian-American community are overwhelmingly opposed to such efforts, particularly at a time when regional tensions already have been pushed to the brink and threaten to spill over into conflict. As the largest grassroots organization in the Iranian-American community, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) calls on Google to not allow its products to become propaganda tools and to immediately reinstate the historically accurate, apolitical title of “Persian Gulf” in all of its informational products, including Google Maps.

Historically, the name “Persian Gulf” is undisputed. The Greek geographer and astronomer Ptolemy referencing in his writings the “Aquarius Persico.” The Romans referred to the "Mare Persicum." The Arabs historically call the body of water, "Bahr al-Farsia." The legal precedent of this nomenclature is also indisputable, with both the United Nations and the United States Board of Geographic Names confirming the sole legitimacy of the term “Persian Gulf.” Agreement on this matter has also been codified by the signatures of all six bordering Arab countries on United Nations directives declaring this body of water to be the Persian Gulf.

But in the past century, and particularly at times of escalating tensions, there have been efforts to exploit the name of the Persian Gulf as a political tool to foment ethnic division. From colonial interests to Arab interests to Iranian interests, the opening of debate regarding the name of the Persian Gulf has been a recent phenomenon that has been exploited for political gain by all sides. Google should not enable these politicized efforts.

In the 1930s, British adviser to Bahrain Sir Charles Belgrave proposed to rename the Persian Gulf, “Arabian Gulf,” a proposal that was rejected by the British Colonial and Foreign offices. Two decades later, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company resurrected the term during its dispute with Mohammad Mossadegh, the Iranian Prime Minister whose battle with British oil interests would end in a U.S.-sponsored coup d'état that continues to haunt U.S.-Iran relations. In the 1960s, the title “Arabian Gulf” became central to propaganda efforts during the Pan-Arabism era aimed at exploiting ethnic divisions in the region to unite Arabs against non-Arabs, namely Iranians and Israelis. The term was later employed by Saddam Hussein to justify his aims at territorial expansion. Osama Bin Laden even adopted the phrase in an attempt to rally Arab populations by emphasizing ethnic rivalries in the Middle East.

We have serious concerns that Google is now playing into these efforts of geographic politicization. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Google has stirred controversy on this topic. In 2008, Google Earth began including the term “Arabian Gulf” in addition to Persian Gulf as the name for the body of water. NIAC and others called on you then to stop using this ethnically divisive propaganda term, but to no avail. Instead of following the example of organizations like the National Geographic Society, which in 2004 used term “Arabian Gulf” in its maps but recognized the error and corrected it, Google has apparently decided to allow its informational products to become politicized.

Google should rectify this situation and immediately include the proper name for the Persian Gulf in Google Maps and all of its informational products. The exclusion of the title of the Persian Gulf diminishes your applications as informational tools, and raises questions about the integrity and accuracy of information provided by Google.

We strongly urge you to stay true to Google’s mission – “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” – without distorting or politicizing that information. We look forward to an explanation from you regarding the recent removal of the Persian Gulf name from Google Maps and call on you to immediately correct this mistake.

Sincerely,

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